Tony & Peggy Barthel - StressLess Campers


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Painting the wild animal corridors in an RV

Painting the wild animal corridors in an RV

I had never heard of wildlife corridors in North America until I had met RVer Fred Wright who is both an advocate of these conservation lands and an avid outdoors enthusiast and painter. Combining his talents along with a passion for travel is what makes him so interesting. Fred is touring North America in his new-to-him Winnebago Nation showing off his work at RV parks all over. 

Fred has been a wildlife and outdoors enthusiast as long as he can remember and has also been interested in capturing wildlife as a painter. His preferred medium is oil on canvas but it all starts with chasing wildlife, figuratively, on his travels across North America with camera in hand. 

As Fred and his wife travel to state parks and BLM lands in the Winnebago they capture photographs of any wild animals they spot. While stopped at these places Fred puts up a display board of his paintings of the wild animals that take advantage of these corridors to travel their native lands while telling as many people as he can about the value of these corridors. 

“The idea (for the wildlife corridors) came from Canada and then spread into the us and the National Park Service in the US like the idea and because large animals have a tendency to wander/migrate they don’t stop at the border and ask for a passport.”

Basically these are lands that allow wild animals to traverse them and migrate as they have for thousands of years. While man builds borders and fences these don’t allow for the natural patterns of wildlife so the governments work with land owners to create border-free spaces for wildlife to take its course. 

The results of these corridors appears to be successful as the National Geographic reports that evidence of the corridors boost biodiversity. It’s clear that nature is a pretty effective self-managing system and the Internet has been very effective at telling the story of how wolves returning to Yellowstone literally changed the paths rivers took

Fred and his painting board touring great campsites across north America. 

Fred and his painting board touring great campsites across north America. 

But back to Fred, who you might find at a campground throughout the year showing off his paintings. He’s been painting as long as he’s been interested in wildlife but only claims about six hours of formal painting eduction yet his work clearly speaks for itself. 

As for traversing the country and showing off his work, “I got the idea when I heard about the corridors that if i had a small motorhome I could go up and down the Rockies following the corridors and take photos and and use the photographs as a basis of painting pictures.” 

Fortunately Fred has a very patient partner in his wife such that I met Fred when he called me about the Navion for sale at the RV dealership that I work at in Northern California and Fred lives in Canada. Ultimately we came to a deal and he recently picked up the Navion to start his adventure. 

“Our purpose is to let people know where their taxes are going. Fred is doing this totally out of his own interest but is not paid by the governments or anyone.”

Winnebago Navion - 1.JPG

RVing is in his blood. “We’ve had small trailers when the kids were little. Then we migrated to a tent trailer. Then a pickup and camper - we’ve had three Lance campers - the last one weighed 4,000lbs sitting on a one-ton GMC dually. We’ve been to Alaska three times - one trip originating from Toronto which is eight eight-hour days. During that time we took photos of all the mountains and all the large animals I could possibly get pictures of.”

Fred and his wife live in Canada so they return home as winter approaches and Fred has the photographs printed out. From there he spends winters with the oils and canvas recreating what he saw in person throughout the camping season. 

When it’s time to hit the road again Fred’s innovative display board can be changed with his paintings by simply replacing the painting in the frame. The whole assembly goes together quickly and, just like that, Fred’s advocating for the wildlife corridors while enjoying the open road and beautiful campgrounds and lands of North America. 

I think Fred and Sharon have this retirement thing figured out pretty well if you ask me!

“My wife is just tickled pink.” They’re driving along and she’ll point out buffalo so they pull over and shoot as many good pictures as possible. 

As mentioned, Fred’s interest in the outdoors goes back as far as he can remember but he recalled the Boy Scout camp days at Wolverton in the Sequoia mountains when he was a younger lad. 

Over 100 Boy Scouts would come up every week from Los Angeles with the idea of going back to the nature. In the base camp they had a problem with black bears breaking into the kitchen through a French door. At night the black bears would push open the top half of the door but one time a bear got high-centered on the lower half of the door. 

Fred got “elected” to solve the problem and said, “I found that if I got a large stainless steel pan and he would bang on that so the bears would freak out and back off and run.” The bears were, after all, becoming dependent on the Boy Scouts and this wasn’t such a great idea. 

One week someone shouted that one of the bears had invaded the visiting doctor’s tent and all Fred had was a his pail and spoon when he confronted the bear, who was enjoying a chocolaty treat. A lot of it. Although bears can’t read the labels so the difference between Hershey and ExLax isn’t apparent to them. This bear had found the latter. 

Since Fred didn’t have his pan with him, he threw a beaker of hydrogen peroxide at the chocolate-loving bear which did the trick and got rid of the invading creature. 

About a week later a ranger rolled up to the camp wondering if anyone had any knowledge of a blonde-headed black bear who had severe digestive issues and couldn’t seem to stop pooping in the woods. 

If you’re enjoying the wonderful parks and lands in North America and happen to see a Winnebago Navion with some great paintings of wildlife in front have a chat with Fred and Sharon. They’re really interesting people who are wonderful to spend time with and share information on a really interesting collaboration of our various governments on these lands.

More info about wildlife corridors:

North American conservation corridors

Wildland Network: Western Wildway

National Geographic: Wildlife corridors are working

Sierra Club - Missing Link to Wildlife Corridors

RVing is the best form of travel in the US

RVing is the best form of travel in the US

StressLess in a stressful situation

StressLess in a stressful situation